7th August 2017
GUTSY MUIR FALLS JUST SHORT ON DAY 4 OF WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Laura Muir (Andy Young) came agonisingly close to winning her first global medal, finishing fourth in the final of the women’s 1500m at the London 2017 World Championships.
With South African 800m specialist Caster Semenya in the field as well as Kenya’s Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon, Muir was taking no chances – heading straight to the front of the pack as soon as the gun fired.
Dutch world number one Sifan Hassan pushed on with 600m to go as Muir momentarily slipped back to fourth, but the British record holder quickly regained her composure, moving up to third as the field surged on once more before the bell.
Coming off the final bend Muir still sat third behind Kipyegon and Hassan, with plenty of daylight between the Scot and the rest of the chasing pack.
But then came Semenya and the USA’s Olympic bronze medallist Jenny Simpson, charging down the home straight with terrific pace and catching Muir just before the line as Hassan faded to fifth.
Kipyegon took gold in 4:02.59 with Simpson second in 4:02.76 and Semenya third in 4:02.90. Muir finished just 0.07 seconds behind in 4:02.97.
“I ran as hard as I could right to the line. There was nothing I could’ve done about it when they came past me. I gave myself the best chance I could and I just wasn’t strong enough for that last 10 metres,” said Muir.
“I knew when I crossed the line that it had just gone. I could tell Caster was a fraction ahead of me but there is nothing I can do about it. I ran as hard as I could and fourth was what I got.”
Having suffered a stress fracture to her foot earlier in the summer, Muir did consider whether her enforced time off the track could have affected her performance on the night.
“I was in the pool for two weeks and missed sessions for the best part of three weeks, so you wonder if that would have made a difference but I had a lot of support from my coach and the British Athletics Medical Staff so I am very grateful I am able to be here and to compete for a medal. I’m gutted but happy to be here,” she added.
Doubling up with the 5,000m heats to come on Thursday, Muir remained optimistic:
“Hopefully I can run well but it is still a very new event for me. I have got three days to recover so that is plenty of time. I am used to running hard day in day out so that is plenty of time for me.”
Laura Weightman (Steve Cram) also sprinted hard in the closing stages and came through to take sixth place in 4:04.11.
“I got myself in a bit of a bad position when everyone came round me with a lap to go and I think a bit of pushing and shoving cost me there,” said the 26-year-old.
“I finished really quickly and went past three or four athletes. I am really pleased to finish so strongly but I am almost slightly disappointed that I am only sixth. It was a great race and it my highest global finish so I have to be really happy.”
Sophie Hitchon (Tore Gustafsson) won bronze in the hammer throw at the Rio Olympic Games last year – the first British woman to medal in the event – but there was disappointment this time around for the 26-year-old who finished in seventh place with a best of 72.32m.
“I think I showed in qualification that I was in good shape, but I just couldn’t find the rhythm from the beginning,” said Hitchon, who had thrown 73.05m in the qualifying round two days earlier.
“I can’t really put my finger on what it was. It is now about going back to the drawing board and trying to start again from next year.
“The result obviously wasn’t what I wanted but that crowd was absolutely amazing. I am just sorry I couldn’t produce something better for them.”
Gold went to Poland’s defending champion Anita Wlodarczyk with 77.90m, as China’s Zheng Wang (75.98m) and Poland’s Malwina Kopron (74.76m) claimed silver and bronze respectively.
There was great news in the sprints as all three Brits sailed through the heats of the men’s 200m.
European bronze medallist Danny Talbot (Benke Blomkvist) looked in terrific form as he raced shoulder-to-shoulder alongside South African world number two Wayde van Niekerk in the third heat.
The pair finished well clear of the rest of the field, sharing a smile as they crossed the line together, and both looked like they have plenty more to give come semi-final time in two days’ time.
“I think I’m in the best shape of my life so I’m just trying to go with it. I’m very grateful to be in the position I am. It’s definitely the best season I’ve ever had and to be able to have that going in to a home World Championships is something you can only dream of,” said Talbot, who set a new personal best of 20.16 in the process.
Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake (Dennis Shaver) showed just why he lined up as the fastest European in the world this year, running a terrific final 60m and crossing the line in 20.08 just behind Canadian Aaron Brown, who was later disqualified.
“To get through with one of the fastest times is always a good achievement, hopefully I’ll get a good lane in the next round and set myself up and try execute,” said the 23-year-old.
Fifth in the World Championship final two years ago, Zharnel Hughes (Patrick Dawson) just missed out on automatic qualification after finishing fourth in the sixth heat, but his time of 20.43 meant he grabbed the first of the fastest losers’ spots.
“It was an okay race for me, I think my start was just a little bit too sleepy, my transition was a bit okay. Getting in to the home straight I started to feel a bit of tightness but then I relaxed a bit and then I got through,” said Hughes, who missed out on Rio 2016 after suffering a knee injury.
British team captain Eilidh Doyle (Brian Doyle) secured her place in Tuesday’s semi-final of the women’s 400m hurdles with a third-place finish in heat four clocking 55.49.
Racing in the outside lane the Scot looked in control down the back straight, with American Kori Carter the only athlete matching her pace. South African Wenda Nel came through in the closing stages to steal second but Doyle was just pleased to put qualification behind her.
“It’s been nerve wracking getting out there – I just wanted to get the first round out of the way and get that secure qualification,” she explained.
“I spent the last few days just watching everybody and it’s made me hungry to get out and have my own shot. It was amazing, I couldn’t even hear my name getting announced because of the cheer. It was just incredible.”
Meghan Beesley (Michael Baker) also made it through as one of the fastest losers despite faltering before the final barrier.
“Coming down the home straight I just didn’t attack, I was like, ‘Right I’m in third, I can do this.’ Then two girls came past me because I wasn’t attacking (hurdle) ten so that was a mistake on my behalf.
“If I ended up not through because of me being over-confident I’d have been hating myself for the next six months,” said Beesley, who was edged out in to sixth place in the final heat by a string of fast finishers.
Jess Turner (Nick Dakin) missed out this time, but she remains determined to use the experience to her advantage.
“I think I came off one hurdle badly – I hit it, so that put me in a bad position to go off. I can’t be too disappointed because I’m here, my first senior international, I’m just really glad to be here and I can definitely learn from this,” said the 21-year-old, who won European Under 23 silver last month.
Aberdonian Zoey Clark (Eddie McKenna) showed she’s more than equipped for the big stage as she knocked 0.03 seconds off her personal best in the semi-finals of the women’s 400m.
Making her major championship debut in the individual event, the 22-year-old British champion gave it her all as she crossed the line in 51.81, but her seventh-place finish wasn’t enough to make it through to the final.
“A pb – I can’t really complain. The race was a little messy but I got a pb so I really can’t be angry with that,” she said.
“Coming in to this I thought ‘Just get used to the experience, use it and learn that,’ and maybe there was an outside chance of getting to the semi-finals. I got to the semi-finals and I got a pb. So really I ticked all the boxes.”
A strong final 50m by Jack Green (self-coached) wasn’t quite enough to see him through to the final of the men’s 400m hurdles although reflecting on the race, he acknowledged the progress he has made since taking time out from the sport a few months after London 2012.
“In the end, it was my highest finish at a Worlds, take away the time. Olympics – I didn’t finish the semi-final, Rio I came last, here it was fourth. So I take it for that, but I’m really disappointed because things have been going really well. But welcome to sport,” said the 25-year-old, who clocked 49.93.
“I’m obviously very disappointed because I believed there was a strong chance of being a finalist here – that was the aim, but I wasn’t running that long ago; I was taking a full break from everything, and now I’m back here competing for my country which is what it’s all about.”
Nathan Fox (Tosin Oke) opened with 16.27m in the men’s triple jump qualification then added a further 22cm in the next round, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to reach the final.